Vietnam vet finally gets to say good-bye to the friend he couldn’t save

Posted by • August 09, 2016

It took 46 years, but Ricky Miller finally went to say good-bye to the best friend he tried desperately to rescue in Vietnam. It wasn’t easy.

The first time he tried, about 25 years ago, he got as far as the little cemetery in Kentucky where he thought his friend was buried–but couldn’t get out of his car. The stress of the trip to visit his friend’s family was so intense that he developed Bell’s palsy a day or two afterward, and the paralysis of the facial muscles caused the left side of his face to sag dramatically for months.

He didn’t know until his return last week that the family members he saw on that first trip were related to a different soldier with a similar name, and Miller had never actually met any of […] READ MORE

New names on The Wall

Posted by • June 05, 2016

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund has added eight names to the shiny black granite panels of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, bringing the total of American servicemen and women listed as killed or missing in Southeast Asia during the war to 58,315. Nine of those identified on The Wall as missing in action were reclassified as killed, based on recovery and identification of their remains.

The fund, which raised the money and built The Wall, relies on the Department of Defense to update the casualty count once a year as new information is received and verified. When the Pentagon confirms that service members eventually died of wounds sustained during the Vietnam conflict, their names are engraved in a manner that makes them essentially identical in size and style to those carved in stone when the […] READ MORE

To Americans who died in ‘The Great War’

Posted by • May 28, 2016

Note: The following guest blog  first appeared in the Northern Dutchess News in Dutchess County, New York. Story and photos by jim donick


They called it “The Great War” or, more optimistically, “The War to End All Wars.” It was only after we became embroiled in another one that it simply became known as “World War I.”

In Europe today—especially in the Champagne region and along the slopes of the Chemin des Dames, France, where so much of the butchery took place—they still call it “The Great War.”

Memorial Day had actually begun after the American Civil War, but was pretty much confined to North America. World War I changed it entirely. This was the very first conflict where so many young Americans were called up and sent away to a […] READ MORE

Surprise reunion

Posted by • May 09, 2016

ATLANTA, April 29, 2016–Bill Reeder was sitting at the authors’ table signing copies of his new memoir when he overheard someone telling one of the other authors nearby that he had done 6 1/2 years in Vietnam, an implausible length of time for even the most gung-ho American troops. Reeder’s attention perked up when he heard the man say his helicopter had been shot down in 1968 and he’d been held as a prisoner of war until 1973.

Reeder, the author of Through the Valley: My Captivity in Vietnam, wondered who at the huge Army Aviation trade show he was attending would claim to have been a Vietnam POW more than four decades ago. He looked up at the claimant standing a few feet away and almost shouted the word “Jim!” Their eyes locked; […] READ MORE

Alive Day–the day he almost died

Posted by • April 07, 2016

On Friday, April 8, Max Cleland will celebrate the 48th anniversary of the day he got blown up in Vietnam.

“I should be dead,” he told me this week. He is anything but. Cleland has made another astonishing recovery, less dramatic than that day he lost three limbs and 42 pints of blood in Vietnam, but he is back once again, this time from years of severe depression and a bout with long-dormant post traumatic stress disorder.

Cleland was a freshly promoted captain in the Army Signal Corps when the thousands of men and dozens of helicopters of the 1st Air Cavalry Division were ordered to relieve the beleaguered Marines at Khe Sanh, a mountain combat base in the northwest corner of South Vietnam. The Marines had been under siege for 77 […] READ MORE

Talk with Haunting Legacy author

Posted by • March 27, 2016

Deborah Kalb, co-author of Haunting Legacy that she wrote with her father Marvin Kalb, interviewed me about my book as part of her “Q&As with Experts” project. Haunting Legacy traces the impact of the Vietnam War on all American presidents since the war ended.

The Price They Paid: Enduring Wounds of War deals not so much with the politics and military strategy of the post-war years but with the impact the war has had on one air cavalry troop that fought it. It traces the actions of the troop commander and those who flew with him into the most intensive helicopter warfare ever–and returns to them 40 years after the war ended to gauge how they were affected by their combat experience. Almost without exception, the men who survived have struggled with physical and […] READ MORE

‘Price’ a Finalist for Book of the Year

Posted by • March 13, 2016

Foreword Reviews named Michael Putzel’s book, The Price They Paid: Enduring Wounds of War, a finalist for Indiefab Book of the Year, the award sponsor announced.

Foreword, which focuses on books published by independent publishing houses and university presses, uses a panel of booksellers and librarians to choose the top fiction and nonfiction published outside the “big five” publishers that once dominated nearly all book sales in the United States.
The Price They Paid, released in 2015 by Trysail Publishing of Washington, follows the lives of pilots and crews in one air cavalry unit that flew through the most intensive helicopter warfare ever and explores how that experience changed their lives. The author flew with the unit as a war correspondent in Vietnam and […] READ MORE

Book Forum at Washington’s historic Army and Navy Club

Posted by • February 29, 2016

Author’s book talk and audience discussion of The Price They Paid by Michael Putzel

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Wine and Cheese Reception – 6:30 p.m. | Speaker – 7 p.m. | $12 per person

The Price They Paid: Enduring Wounds of War is the stunning and dramatic true story of a legendary helicopter commander in Vietnam and the troops who followed him into the most intensive helicopter warfare ever. Michael Putzel, a distinguished American journalist who covered the war for 2 ½ years, recounts how that brutal experience has changed their lives in the forty years since the war ended.

Tickets available by calling Stephanie at (202) 355-0496 or for purchase at the door.

A fateful day

Posted by • February 10, 2016

Forty-five years ago today, February 10, 1971, I lost a dear friend and mentor. Our journalism profession lost not only my friend, Henri Huet of The Associated Press, but three other esteemed comrades when their helicopter was shot down over Laos.

By the time he died at 43, Henri had already shot some of the most remarkable and memorable war photographs of his time. Among those killed with him, Larry Burrows of LIFE magazine had similarly captured images that spoke volumes about the agony and devastation of war. Two younger, but also gifted photographers, Keisaburo Shimamoto of Newsweek and Kent Potter of UPI, went down with them. Hardly noticed was another young photographer, a gentle South Vietnamese army sergeant named Tu Vu, who sold some of his best work to […] READ MORE

A documentary portrays the pain of PTSD

Posted by • February 05, 2016

A young woman who grew up with her father’s PTSD has tracked down some of his fellow soldiers for a short documentary that captures the agony of wartime injuries that won’t go away.



Kara Frame, a multimedia intern at National Public Radio (NPR), produced and directed I Will Go Back Tonight, a 20-minute video that combines images of young infantrymen whose company was overwhelmed by an enemy force in Vietnam with present-day interviews of some of the survivors and their families.


The 90 men of Charlie Company, 1st Mechanized Battalion, 5th Infantry, accompanied by armored personnel carriers, their “tracks,” entered the Ben Cui rubber plantation the morning of August 21, 1968, knowing they were in for a fight. They didn’t know the force awaiting them about 40 miles north of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, was perhaps […] READ MORE